Saturn and Its Rings in July, 2016

July 28, 2016

SaturnMaster070516ChumackLRweb3 (1)

Photographer: John Chumack
Summary Author:
John Chumack

Shown above is Saturn as captured from my backyard observatory in Dayton, Ohio. Saturn has the most extensive planetary ring system of any planet in the Solar System. The rings consist of countless small particles made almost entirely of water ice, ranging in size from micrometers to meters, which orbit about Saturn. There's no consensus about the mechanism of formation; some features of the rings suggest a relatively recent origin, but theoretical models indicate they're likely to have formed early in the Solar System's history.

Although reflection from the rings increases Saturn's brightness, they're not visible from Earth with unaided vision. In 1610, the year after Galileo Galilei first turned a telescope to the sky, he became the very first person to observe Saturn's rings, though he couldn't observe them well enough to discern their true nature. In 1655, Christian Huygens was the first person to describe the rings as a disk surrounding Saturn. Photo taken on July 5, 2016.

Photo Details: Celestron 8 in diameter telescope (SCT 2000mm); QHY5IIL camera; Celestron 3x Barlow (F30) lens; 2100 frames RGB stacked in Registax6.